With the exception of my wife, Jim is the person that I’ve done the most adventuring with. When Jim lived closer to me we would frequent places such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Superior Hiking Trail.
My backcountry cooking kit is far superior to whatever David Creech is carrying around in his pack. Here are 25 reasons why.
1) I made my cook set (except spork) myself. With tools. In my basement.
2) My pot can also be used as a mug for hot drinks.
3) My fuel is alcohol, and could be used to help treat injury.
4) My pot is a giant beer can that I replace several times a year (you can guess why that is a positive).
5) My fuel bottle is reusable, David’s canisters are single use.
6) I found a use for that old mouse pad, it is now a pot holder.
7) People have gone home and made their own stove after seeing mine.
8) My stove looks bad-ass when priming.
9) My stove takes less than an ounce of fuel to cook a meal.
10) My cook set is compact with everything fitting inside a 25 ounce can.
11) One 3 ounce Listerene bottle is all the fuel I need for a long weekend.
12) My entire cook kit weighs less than David’s fuel canister…empty!
13) My pot lid is also a measuring cup.
14) My fuel bottle is clear, allowing me to see exactly how much fuel I have.
15) My stove is quieter than David’s, it makes no noise at all.
16) My cook kit allows me to always bring the correct amount of fuel.
17) My cook kit is a conversation starter when I share a campsite.
18) My pot also serves as a wide mouth water bottle.
19) David has a whole bunch of partially used fuel canisters. I refill mine.
20) I can buy fuel at gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, liquor stores…just about anywhere! David is limited to buying fuel at outdoor recreation stores.
21) The entire cost of my cook set is under $20, with over half that cost being my spork.
22) My résumé reads, “designer of lightweight outdoor cooking solutions”.
23) I’ve met with friends to discuss the finer points of backcountry stove design.
24) I can take my fuel on a plane, David cannot.
25) It’s ultralight and ultralight is cool.
Yesterday when I was out hiking I saw this and decided I must hike it.
So after work today I started up the mountain.
Then I hiked up some stairs.
Then I hiked down a ledge that reminded me of Angel’s Landing.
Then I stood above a cool waterfall.
Then I hiked over the top of a giant pipe that, I’m guessing, brings water into the city.
And then there was this.
And then there was a cool tunnel that was blasted into the mountain.
So of course I had to climb into it.
And then there was another tunnel.
But this one didn’t have an opening at the other end.
So I had to go around.
And I saw why I couldn’t make it through.
I hiked on.
Through another tunnel.
And some more hiking.
And then I couldn’t go any further.
So I turned around.
I’m excited to announce that I have teamed with Outdoor Research (OR) as part of the brand new Outdoor Research Insight Lab!
Several weeks ago I published a post detailing my excitement for some upcoming spring adventures (thus far, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion have been amazing). Shortly after submitting that post I was contacted by a representative from OR.
The OR Insight Lab is made up of a group of adventurous outdoor loving people that will be putting new OR gear to the test. There’s a lot about the program that isn’t quite ready for prime time, so let’s just say it’ll be more than the old traditional gear reviews.
I’m thrilled to be teamed up with an awesome company that produces high quality gear, but even more than that, it’s an honor to be a part a terrific group of people that will be making up the Outdoor Research Insight Lab.
Over the days and weeks ahead I’ll be testing out and giving feedback on some new spring and summer gear I received earlier this week.
I’ve had a long burning desire to go on a big adventure. I’m talking thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail big. I’m talking snowshoe across Greenland big. I’m talking bike coast to coast big. I’m talking big; I’m talking epic.
An adventure that takes me away for months (or maybe even longer) will happen, but not this year. So back when I was planning 2013 I starting thinking of ways to do a grand adventure without leaving my dog (and to a lesser extent my wife or job) behind.
As I looked at my 2013 calendar, filled with races, epic weekenders, week long adventures and a lot of travel, I devised a plan to tie it all together. My goal of covering 3,333.33 miles was born.
3,333 was an arbitrary number I picked only because of my 33rd birthday. I had no idea if it was too far or too short of a distance, but it felt right. I made only two rules; I must cover the distance under my own power, and I must cover it with intent (walking across the parking lot from my car to Trader Joe’s doesn’t count, but running there from my house does).
Since January 1st I’ve biked, ran, skied, hiked, snowshoed and paddled a total of 990 miles, roughly the driving distance from my house in the Twin Cities to Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ve been getting stronger, faster, healthier and leaner along the way, with my average per day mileage increasing from 6.1 miles a day in January to 13.4 miles a day so far in April.
And with that, it’s time to head out for a quick ten miles.
David Creech para jumped out of a helicopter and landed squarely on the summit of Angels Landing before rappelling down hundreds of feet onto a narrow ledge. There, he unclipped his harness, turned, and clipped himself into the wires just above his head. He then zipped over a thousand feet down to where I was cooking my dinner over an open campfire. He landed firmly on the ground as two gorgeous swimsuit models made their way out of the crowd that had amassed to witness his arrival. One of the models unclipped him from the zipline as he chugged down a Red Bull. He smashed the empty can flat across his forehead and the crowd cheered wildly! As David motioned for the exuberant campers to settle down, a giant screen rose from the earth behind him and began to play the video he had just shot with his Go Pro.
Okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea, our Zion trip was one badass adventure.
We boarded the bus, tired, sore, and soaking wet; it had been an epic day.
Thankfully an epic day is worthy of some fresh food, so we left our freeze dried meals behind and made our way to the Zion Brew Pub. At the pub, the beers were pouring freely and the food couldn’t come fast enough as we celebrated adventure at Zion.
SATURDAY EARLY MORNING: ANGELS LANDING
It was dark from the night when my watch started beeping Saturday morning. The excitement for the day ahead was all the motivation I needed to coax myself out of my warm sleeping bag and into the cool morning.
Angels Landing was the hike that, more than anything else, had drawn both of us to Zion. The climbs, the exposure, the chains, the scrambling, the danger, the views; all of these things built up our excitement for the hike to Angels Landing.
We reached the empty trailhead around first light. The trail started with a series of short switchbacks, representing a steady and steep climb. That trail ended at Scout Lookout, located well below the summit of Angels Landing. From that point, chains marked the scrambling route up the rock face.
After a brief ascent up the rock we had to cross a narrow fin with steep drop offs on each side. It was no joke; six people had perished on this hike since 2004.
We arrived at the top of Angels Landing and made our way to the edge of the cliff. The views of Zion Canyon were simply remarkable. We stayed on the landing for about an hour taking photos and enjoying the scenery. We didn’t have a single visitor the entire time we were up there, but we could see little specs of people down below beginning to make their way up the trail.
We made our way back down the way we had come up. When we returned to Scout Lookout, we encountered a number of people that were enjoying the view, leading us to conclude that the lookout was the preferred stopping point for most. This explained how we were able to have the landing to ourselves for so long.
The hike up to Angels Landing was an incredible experience, one that solidified a new friendship with someone I had only met the day prior.
I went for a run as soon as I had my camp set up at Zion National Park in southwestern Utah. I ran up to the park entrance to get a photo of the park sign and then headed down the Pa’Rus Trail that follows the river between the visitor center and the history museum. While Zion in and of itself was a sweet place to run, it was awesome to see that all of the bridges on the trail where from Minnesota.
When I arrived back at camp, I met Dave, my hiking companion for the weekend. I knew Dave through an online hiking community that we both belonged to, but this was our first time meeting in person. We had dinner around a campfire and planned a morning hike to Angels Landing and an afternoon hike to Observation Point.
SATURDAY LATE MORNING: OBSERVATION POINT
We started the four mile ascension up to Observation Point as soon as the shuttle bus from the Angels Landing trailhead dropped us off. The Observation Point trail followed a series of switchbacks and ridge line hiking that resulted in a quick gain of 2,148 feet. While not as technical as Angels Landing, the Observation Point hike was longer and gained more altitude.
We took a break at the summit and Dave got some terrific photos of the local wildlife. We also had a great view of Angels Landing and the hardcore hike that we had started our day with.
SATURDAY MIDDAY: HIDDEN CANYON
Three quarters of the way back down from Observation Point was a spur trail leading to Hidden Canyon. Without hesitation, we headed straight down the spur at the turnoff. Several people that we had seen at the summit, who were taking a rest break, commented on how totally badass we were.
It was a relatively short hike out to Hidden Canyon, but it was still awesome. Part of the hike was across a narrow ledge equipped with chains, much like the chains at Angels Landing. After reaching Hidden Canyon, we turned around and completed the hike down from Observation Point.
Back at the trailhead we waited for the shuttle bus and reviewed our plans for Sunday.
An epic series of hikes and a late night celebration on Saturday delayed our wake up time all the way to 6:45 Sunday morning. Dave was heading east and I was heading north, so we parted ways after packing up camp.
I left the Zion Canyon and drove an hour north to the Kolob area of the Zion Wilderness. I started with a five mile out and back down the Taylor Creek Trail to Double Arch Alcove. Even with the late start, I was the first one on the trail and did not encounter another person until after the turnaround. I took only a few minutes at Double Arch Alcove, and while it was a site both massive and impressive, it didn’t speak to me the same way that Druid Arch at Canyonlands had.
After finishing Taylor Creek, I started down La Verkin Creek Trail with the hopes of getting to Kolob Arch.
About a mile before reaching Kolob Arch I was forced to turn around. I had a four hour drive to catch a flight home; Kolob would have to wait. Unlike Saturday, there would be no epic conclusion to the day.
SATURDAY LATE AFTERNOON: THE NARROWS
Despite being tired and sore from hikes to Angels Landing, Observation Point, and Hidden Canyon, we made a last minute change to our itinerary by adding an easy two mile out and back to see The Narrows. The Narrows is a narrow canyon within Zion that is a monster of a summer “hiking” route. I use the term “hiking” loosely, because it is not really a hike at all. There is no trail, only a route through a canyon, and that route is completely under water.
The river through the canyon is mostly thigh to waste deep, with some areas being deep enough to require swimming. Both of us had ambitions of completing The Narrows in the future, so going down to see them felt like a fitting end to our day.
It was a busy hike along the river to the start of The Narrows. We quickly maneuvered past the slow day walkers and made our way to the end of the trail; there, a crowd of people looked out into The Narrows from the safety of dry ground.
We looked out to the river and cliffs ahead, we looked at each other, and then, I handed one of my trekking poles to Dave. We stepped in the icy waters and made our way out into The Narrows.wildernessdave.com You can also follow him on Twitter at @DavidECreech